Russia’s wifi jammer system poses a great threat
Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the jamming, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international security organization that has been monitoring the conflict in Ukraine, has also reported that the drones they use to monitor the frontline have been jammed multiple times.
Commanders may be more hesitate to employ a GPS-directed bomb or rocket, especially near friendly forces, if there is any concern that it could fall on the wrong target due to jamming or another form of electronic warfare. This in turn could greatly limit the fire support options available to American forces or their allies.
It is increasingly obvious that the Russian systems. and the threat they pose, are out there now, though. They also offer the Kremlin a relatively low risk means to probe or otherwise harass its opponents without touching off an actual conflict, as is the case with cyber attacks, since it can be difficult for authorities to isolate the source of the GPS signal jammer or spoofing and the actual intent.
It doesn’t appear that the drone was hit by a projectile or laser in its descent (though evidence of such would certainly change this analysis). Barring a physical projectile, the known non-kinetic methods for stopping a drone are threefold: radio frequency (RF) jamming, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) jamming, and spoofing. With RF jamming, the link between the drone and its operator is severed, usually causing the drone to descend or return to home. With GNSS, the drone’s link to satellite navigation is lost, and the drone then usually hovers in place, lands, or returns home. With spoofing, the attacker feeds the drone new information to take control of its flight.
The head of the U.S. Special Operations Command says unspecified opponents in Syria, almost certainly Russian or Russian-support forces, have reportedly launched electronic warfare attacks against U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships operating in the country, as well as other communications links. This is the latest in a string of reports that highlight the growing threat of jamming and other non-kinetic attacks to American military activities in the region and in general.